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Inflating Your Ebay Rating

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I saw this interesting article on how easy it is to inflate your Ebay rating. The gist of the idea is that by selling an e-book for pennies on Ebay, you can get a lot of positive ratings, which are crucial on Ebay.  Since it is possible to sell a nearly infinite number of e-books, the cost is a one time expenditure to create the content of the e-book.  The result is a small investment that can lead to a big reputation.
This shows a glaring loophole in Ebay's grading System. Ebay's ratings should reflect the amount of the transaction in such a way that micro-transactions would have a minimal effect on your rating. While it is possible to review the the ratings, it's difficult for people to review all the items that a person has previous sold.

What should Ebay do? They should post the average selling and average buying price of each item reviewed. This way if I sell 2000 e-books for a penny and 25, $50 items, it's obvious that I'm inflating things.

Have you ever run into an inflated eBay ranking? Is this really a prevalent problem or am I just making it out to be more than it is?

Posted on June 12, 2007.

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15 Responses to “Inflating Your Ebay Rating”

  1. Swanny says:

    [Editor’s note: The following URL points to articles more than 2 years old. It could be self-promotion, but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt and publishing it anyway.]

    I found some additional articles on ebay marketing that you might find useful.
    http://www.marketplacesnapshot.com/archives/ebay_research/

  2. broknowrchlatr says:

    I had never thought about this before.

    When I buy stuff on ebay, I always review the first page of comments from people. I also look at the item tehy purchased. So, I’m covered fromt his type of thing and I really haven’t every seen soemone with any EBooks sold.

    The thing is, you only get a point for unique buyers. So to inflate it by 1000 points, you have to have 1000 unique people waste their time buying it and adding a comment. Plus, I really only buy from people that have 99% positive and have a score in the tens of thousands.

  3. Smith says:

    I don’t think you are inflating the problem – ebays policies are seriously weighted in favor of the seller, and this is one way that sellers can quickly increase their ratings. There have been a number of articles on MSN reflecting the use of fraud and hijacked accounts on ebay – I think that inflated ratings are just the tip of the iceberg. Besides the two links below, I had seen an article (i thought it was on the redtape chronicles) highlighting the use of scripts to identify fraudulent accounts (it didn’t say how many false positives it got). But it also highlighted the fact that ebay does little to nothing to keep frauds who get bumped off from just opening a new ebay account.

    http://redtape.msnbc.com/2007/03/how_far_has_vla.html
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3078736/

  4. Lazy Man says:

    broknowrchlatr: Someone could sell 1000 eBooks and then selling a page full of regular items. If you just look at that page, it looks pretty solid.

    If it’s a popular e-book, I think 1000 could buy it, not by wasting their time, but because they are interested. If it’s what it’s advertised, it should garner all positive ratings.

  5. J2R says:

    Never thought of this…

    I agree this is a hole in their grading system.
    However, simply listing the average transaction value might not be the solution.

    If I’m shady enough to think about selling 1000 eBooks for a penny, I could easily setup a fake transaction for a car which a friend of mine could “buy” and report a successful transaction.

    Can’t think of a good solution for their ranking system, so I’ll just keep bitching at other’s suggestions and not contribute with anything :)

  6. Ebay Tips says:

    Interesting thought.
    I normally randomly go through the ratings a while into them. It would be nice if they added a little more information to the rating system though. That would make it easier to check out a seller.

  7. hejustlaughs says:

    I only inflated my rating because I saw that other sellers selling similar products were garnering more bids for their items. The only difference between them and me was the feedback count.

    Inflating your feedback is only meant to impress the uneducated ebay bidders who only look at your rating count to determine if you’re a worthy seller.

    I’m still the honest and fast seller I was when I was at 40 positive feedbacks. Nothing material has changed and I still maintain 100% positive feedback going forward, however there are dishonest sellers out there that inflate their feedbacks to the thousands and then then cheat buyers out of their money.

  8. SavingDiva says:

    I’ve never thought about this before. I have over 100 positive comments, so I don’t really worry about selling things on eBay.

    J2R, the fake transaction for a car would probably kick up quite a few dollars in final value fees (even if you started the bidding at $.01).

  9. Lazy Man says:

    hejustlaughs: I didn’t mean to imply that you were doing it for anything negative and I’m sorry if I did. I just thought it was a very interesting loopholes. I love loopholes personally. When you are Lazy like me, they really make things easier :-).

  10. J2R says:

    @SavingDiva
    doh.. forgot about the fees… I generally don’t sell stuff on ebay. I’m more of a Craigslist kind of guy

  11. Jongasm says:

    I had someone on eBay try to screw me out of a phone, and in addition to this, he left me my only negative feedback out of 50 transactions! eBay will do nothing. :-

  12. At The Bottom says:

    I guess I look at the ranking a different way. Said person sold 2000 copies of his e-book, delivered the e-book, and the buyer was happy. The seller should get a positive rating for that. He did everything he promised in the eBay listing.

    I can see your point about inflating the rating, but I would look at it more as shipped items vs. non-shipped items. If I buy a coupon code for a dell computer, it’s the same thing. The seller just emails me the code, it works, I am happy, I leave positive feedback. But the seller really didn’t have to do much. If it was a shipped item, the seller has a lot more work to do, and you have to rely on the mail service to actually deliver the item.

  13. mbhunter says:

    If the 2,000 folks were happy with their e-books and the way that the seller treated them, why shouldn’t the seller’s feedback rating reflect that? Just because the seller doesn’t have to ship the item, should he be penalized for that?

  14. Lazy Man says:

    I think penalized is the wrong word there. I just don’t think they should count as much. It seems to me that the shipping is one of the bigger issues with Ebay. Let’s say that someone has 2000 positive reviews from an eBook (or something similar). Would you make a $5000 purchase from them? What about if the same person has 2000 positive reviews of $5000 items? The first one doesn’t have the shot, the second one gives me some confidence.

  15. Finance Findings For Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Bad Credit Loans says:

    […] Inflating Your Ebay Rating [Lazy Man and Money] […]

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